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Old 05-27-2018, 01:56 AM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
State: South Carolina
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THOR #11708
Solar and gas generator "co-existance"?

We just got a 2001 Damon Intruder. It has a gas generator, batteries, and can use park power if plugged in.

I am thinking or adding solar to it, but a question arises. Does a solar install "co-exist" with a gas generator and the other power sources easily?? If you have power options of park power, a gas generator, house batteries, and solar, are the systems installed and protected so that if you switch from one to another, the "unwanted" power sources are automatically isolated from one another so that only one is being used to power the RV??
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Old 05-27-2018, 11:24 AM   #2
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Model: Hurricane 35C
State: South Dakota
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THOR #3761
In general, yes. Solar installs typically use a charge controller to manage the current being sent from the panels to the batteries and is hooked directly to the batteries. The current is managed based on the state of battery charge - the controller senses the voltage and places the charge into whatever phase is required for charging the batteries.

So, if your alternator is charging your batteries, the solar controller may sense that the batteries are already at a high state of charge and just go into float mode. Conversely, if you are at a campground and getting ready to leave, unhooking from shore power or turning off the generator (which should be charging the batteries as well) may have the batteries start to use 12V and use some capacity, which would in turn trigger the charge controller to "pump up the volume" and begin the charging cycle.

In short, yes, they are independent systems but they all work together to keep your batteries charged in different circumstances. Don't think of solar as a power system however... it is a charging system only for your batteries. Nothing will run directly off of the solar panels themselves.
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Old 05-27-2018, 12:14 PM   #3
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Model: Palazzo 33.3 34'bunkhouse
State: Alabama
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THOR #4735
jpmihalk is right, and right on : )

Solar is simple a direct charging to your House batteries, when no other power source is available. Now, it doesn't mean that solar power is not 'allowed' during those times, since it IS hooked up directly to the batteries, but it just means that it's power is not 'used' since other 'stronger' power is available, such as shore, generator, or even the engine alternator while you are driving.

Solar is what's used when you are parked, and the engine turned off, with no shore power or generator running. It simple takes the sun's power, converts it to 12v, and sends it down to your batteries, thru a Controller that monitors it and makes sure that it doesn't 'overcharge' your batteries. Simple.

Solar's advantage to RVrs is simple to limit the amount of time you use your generator to charge your batteries when you are not on shore power. Will you need your generator anyway? Yes. Air Conditioners, electric water heating, etc., will need your generator to operate, but Solar can fill in the gaps and give you more time 'off grid' without running it as much.

If your coach has an AGS(AutomaticGeneratorStarter), then you have a 'complete' system to provide automatic cranking of your generator, when needed, and automatic solar power in between!
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Old 05-27-2018, 12:50 PM   #4
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This has been mentioned in several other threads, but solar works fine with other sources of DC. At some point regardless of the source solar will actually take over charging the batteries if it has enough solar input to do so.
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